Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota

The Young Women’s Cabinet

The Young Women’s Cabinet, comprised of up to 25 young women and youth leaders (ages 16-24) from eight communities across Minnesota, is charged with ensuring that the work of the Young Women’s Initiative MN Council stays grounded in the lived experiences of the young women and youth from each community and the community-specific challenges and solutions they identified.

YWI Cabinet Anika Ahluwalia

Anika Ahluwalia

Anika is a senior at Wayzata High School. She is very interested in computer science and is a Business Professionals of America (BPA) state champion in Visual Basic Programming and state finalist in Java Programming. She is a National Merit Semifinalist, National AP Scholar, recipient of the Minnesota Scholar of Distinction in STEM Meritorious Award, and a Minnesota winner of the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Award. As the captain of her Science Olympiad team (2nd place team in State) and a BPA Officer, she works actively to recruit more girls to participate in STEM activities. She created the Girls Got IT Programming Camp to teach middle school girls basic computing concepts and has been running it successfully for the past two years. Anika is also involved in mentoring freshmen as a Link and PEACE Leader. On weekends, she teaches Hindi to young Indian-American children through the Chinmaya Mission organization. Last year, Anika was elected to serve on the YWI MN Field Building grantmaking committee and helped develop and run a leadership workshop for girls at the 2018 Women’s Economic Opportunity Summit. She has received the President’s Volunteer Service Award Gold medal and is a member of the National Honor Society. Anika has played varsity tennis for three years.

In'am Al-Hammouri

In’am Al-Hammouri

In’am Al-Hamouri attends Augsburg University, where she is a psychology major and member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She plans to attend law school, where she will focus on litigating. She has previously volunteered with Palestinian and Syrian refugees in the Middle East. In 2016, she volunteered at Unity Hospital to provide aid to women who had been abused. Most recently, she interned with the lawyer Lee Hutton at Barnes & Thornburg LLP in Minneapolis. In’am grew up watching the struggles of her Middle Eastern community: particularly how women struggled to gain equality. As she got older, she realized that the system in America was not offering many opportunities or resources to help her community, so she became determined to create those opportunities herself. She has resolved to consistently advocate for Middle Eastern women by championing women’s rights, gender equality, and supporting women as leaders and public policy makers. In her free time, In’am enjoys playing the piano, exploring the city, and making new friends.

Deisy Castro

Deisy Castro

Deisy is a senior at South High School, where she is is president of UNIDOS, an after-school group. Throughout her childhood, she saw the struggles her Latinx community faced, so she is dedicated to gaining more knowledge and advocating to support the rights of Latinx people. Her goal in UNIDOS is to bring all Latinx students together at South High School to support each other and have positive and increased representation in school.

YWI Cabinet Ling Debellis

Ling Debellis

Ling is a senior in high school at Mounds Park Academy in St. Paul. She is a lifelong Gillette Children’s patient, and she fundraises for its mission to give specialized healthcare to special needs kids. Ling plans to attend college or university and earn, dual MD/PhD degree in the biological sciences. Ling wishes to work as a medical researcher for public or private institutions such as the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control, or pharmaceutical companies.

Shimarrion Daily

Shimarrion Daily

Shimarrion is originally from Chicago, where she was raised by her uncle, after losing both her parents at just three years old. Growing up without her parents, Shimarrion personally experienced life in group homes and homelessness. She overcame adversity by moving to Minnesota for better opportunities for herself and her young daughter. Motivated to improve her life, Shimarrion worked hard to secure housing and learn how to parent an infant while interning and working with homeless youth. Shimarrion is a member of Irreducible Grace, a support community for youth struggling with healing and trauma. Her experience has instilled in her a passion for working with homeless youth.

Alyse Dees

Alyse Dees

Alyse is a senior at Burnsville High School. Alyse is a delegate for YMCA Minnesota Youth in Government, serving as the Presiding Officer Elect for the National Issues Forum and as the Director of Elections at Model United Nations. Alyse is looking forward to studying political science and public policy and is excited to put her experience at Minnesota YMCA Youth in Government to use. Alyse is also a proud member of Governor Mark Dayton’s Young Women’s Cabinet, where she has been able to work on and influence policy going through the Minnesota legislative branch. She enjoys gymnastics, theater, playing the violin, and volunteering with her church and with Special Olympics Minnesota. She hopes to continue to use her voice as her journey leads her into her future.

Edith Ferrufino

Edith Ferrufino

Edith is a junior at Metropolitan State University, currently studying pre-social work. She keeps herself occupied with two jobs and taking care of her three children. When she was 4, Edith immigrated to Minnesota with her family from Mexico. She is passionate about advocating for women, and specifically for Latinx women. She hopes to raise awareness about sexual assault and its long-term impact on survivors.

YWI Cabinet Raie Gessesse

Raie Gessesse

Raie is a junior attending Hamline University with a planned double major in public health and public service. Outside her student life, she has served as a resident advisor on campus, a teaching assistant in the Public Health department, and a community sexual health educator for African immigrant youth through Planned Parenthood. Additionally, she has interned at the Department of Health and Human services through Capitol Pathways and completed a summer internship as a CUPS scholar through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She plans on combining her leadership experiences to advance health equity through public policy and legal advocacy.

YWI Cabinet Hope Hoffman

Hope Hoffman

Hope is a disability advocate living with Spina Bifida. Her blog, CamoGurl, provides advocacy and support to other young women living with disabilities. Hope is an active member of her community and has written legislation, published articles, and participated in many public speaking engagements. She is currently pursuing her two-year general education degree and plans to major in political science. Hope has previously interned with The Honorable Federal Judge Donovan Frank and the Office of Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith as a policy intern.

Ollie Kalthoff

Ollie Kalthoff

Ollie is a senior at Mahtomedi High School, and takes all their classes at Century College through PSEO. They have an essay published, which they wrote for the Augsburg College Youth Theology Institute, advocating for Christian acceptance of transgender and genderqueer individuals. They also wrote an article for the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, detailing the importance of their business that goes to schools and teaches the staff how to create a safe and welcoming environment for their LGBT+ students. They have been involved in many groups on issues of diversity and LGBT+ issues, both on a local level and statewide. Additionally, they have participated in theater as an actor, in the crew, and student director.

YWI Cabinet Brianne LaDuke

Brianne LaDuke

Brianne is a junior at the University of Minnesota, where she is studying psychology and anthropology. Currently, she is highly involved with Greek life on campus, specifically her Lambda Delta Phi sorority, where she has the opportunity to lead and participate in philanthropic and social service events. Following her undergraduate degrees, she plans to attend law school with a focus on family law and hopes to one day be appointed as a judge. Brianne plans to continue to help underrepresented youth and families as her journey leads her into her career.

Alaysha McCall

Alaysha McCall-Davis

Alaysha is a senior at Augsburg Fairview Academy High School. Previously she worked as an intern personal assistant at Nagell Law PLLC, a firm helping undocumented immigrants obtain visas and citizen status. She is currently volunteering as a tutor in reading, writing, and secondary languages for children in elementary school. Additionally, she volunteered for a program preparing meals and planning activities for disadvantaged families. Alaysha aspires to become an immigration attorney and wants to major in political science and psychology.

YWI Cabinet Teighlor McGee

Teighlor McGee

Teighlor serves as a Womxn of Color Table intern and political healer with Take Action Minnesota. In her role, she works to empower fellow women of color politically and spiritually through community engagement in the form of monthly dinners and a yearly leadership conference. She also serves as a Multicultural and International Programs and Services (MIPS) Peer Mentor and as a peer minister for Campus Ministry at St. Catherine University. Teighlor’s expertise is in racial and gender equity, community organizing and engagement, healthcare advocacy, LGBTQ rights, social media management, and content writing. Teighlor is currently completing her bachelor’s degree in women’s studies and English at St. Catherine University.

YWI Cabinet Amal Muse

Amal Muse

Currently in her senior year at the University of Minnesota, Amal is a journalism and political science double major who aspires to become an immigration lawyer. At the University of Minnesota, Amal served as the President of Students for Horn of Africa (SHA), a student activist group that educates the community about realities of transnational migration and human rights violations occurring in the Horn of Africa. Amal is currently on a semester-long exchange at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she has the opportunity to learn diverse political views from renowned political scholars. Amal also works with the University of Hawaii STAR team to help foster student success by helping students navigate through the vast array of student services and academic outlets offered by the school. One of Amal’s proudest accomplishments is that she is one of the co-founders of the Sisterhood Boutique, a business designed to help young East African girls gain leadership and work experience. Amal has also worked as a research assistant at the Hubbard School of Journalism, a Government Relations intern for the PR and lobbying group Goff Public, and a member of the Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office. As a part of her involvement with the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, Amal worked with the WFMN Innovators grantmaking Committee.

Oluwatobi Oluwagbemi

Oluwatobi Oluwagbemi

Oluwatobi is a political thinker and creative idea generator. She is passionate about writing, reading, and teaching. She also seeks to grow as a leader so that she can encourage others to take on leadership roles within their communities. Tobi is passionate about advocating for women, and becoming an author and public speaker. She wants to be a diplomat and professor in the future. Ultimately, she wants to make a difference in the world of education, women’s empowerment, and global development, just like Michelle Obama. Tobi enjoys meeting good people and hopes to be part of a board or commission that will help people of color, marginalized communities, and underrepresented communities. She is passionate about black people seeing their worth and shine irrespective of what people say or don’t say about them. “Don’t let anyone dim your light simply because its shining in their eyes.”

Beyza Pierre

Beyza Pierre

Beyza is an upper-class student at Saint Cloud State University (SCSU) studying criminal justice and human relations. As a Transitions intern for the Minnesota Department of Corrections, Beyza assists incarcerated women access resources upon release from prison. As former president of the Organization for the Prevention of AIDs (OPAA) in Africa at SCSU, Beyza is still actively involved in HIV/AIDs awareness and sexual health advocacy. From 2016-18, Beyza worked as a full-time Women’s Domestic Violence Advocate at Anna Marie’s Alliance Shelter helping women escape domestic situations and find resources to achieve stability and independence from abusers. Beyza was also a 2018 summer intern for Carver County Probation. In the future, Beyza hopes to work in restorative justice to help ease community integration, specifically for formerly incarcerated youth, young women, and girls.

Jaidyn Probst

Jaidyn Probst

Jaidyn is Bdewakantunwan (Spirit Lake Dwellers) Dakota and comes from Cansayapi (Where They Paint the Trees Red), otherwise known as Lower Sioux. Jaidyn is a senior at Redwood Valley High School and is enrolled in PSEO courses through the University of Minnesota. Jaidyn is a senior class officer, the president for the Cansayapi U.N.I.T.Y. (United National Indian Tribal Youth) chapter, and the president of her school’s National Honor Society. Jaidyn also serves on the Lower Sioux Health and Human Services Committee as a youth ambassador. Jaidyn completed a STEP-UP (Short Term Research Experience for Underrepresented Persons) internship this summer, presented her findings at the National Institutes of Health, and became a published researcher. She hopes to earn her bachelor of health sciences degree from University of Minnesota-Rochester, before moving on to medical school for pediatrics. Jaidyn also enjoys varsity track, competing at state-level art competitions, tutoring, and continuing her education of Dakota language.

YWI Cabinet Aamira Redd

Aamira Redd

Aamira is junior at Minneapolis College earning her degree in film. Previously, she was a volunteer at the Home Free Women’s Shelter and was later hired as a child advocate. She has also served as a youth member for a council that spread awareness about domestic violence. Aamira is passionate about storytelling and hopes to tell stories through the art of filmmaking. In her free time, she runs a magazine called Fortune Magazine showcasing the accomplishments of young women in Minneapolis.

YWI Cabinet Lulu Regules Verduzco

Lulu Regules Verduzco

Lulu is a junior at St. Olaf College, where she is a double major in political science and American studies, with a concentration in women’s and gender studies. At St. Olaf, she serves as the campus outreach coordinator for the Student Government Association’s Political Awareness Committee, events coordinator for Women for Political Change, and the student outreach director of College Democrats. Most recently, Lulu interned at the Minnesota Department of Human Services as a policy analyst in the Child Safety and Permanency unit. Her research at the Department of Human Services guided the development of a Human Trafficking Response Guide that will be used in Minnesota’s Child Protection and Child Welfare system. Previously she was an executive office intern at Women Winning, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping pro-choice women run for public office.

YWI Cabinet Katherine Santamaria-Mendez

Katherine Santamaria-Mendez

Born in El Salvador, Katherine was brought to the United States at the age of 2. Growing up, watching the struggles of the Latinx and immigrant community have been key aspects that have inspired her to create change. At the age of 15, she also became a young mother. She beat all odds and graduated high school along with her associate’s degree from Saint Paul College. Over the past year, she participated in the Capitol Pathways internship program and in the Urban Scholars program with Hennepin County. She is currently a senior at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities majoring in Chicano/Latino Studies. She plans on applying to law school next year with the hopes of becoming an immigration and criminal defense attorney.

YWI Cabinet Anna Singhathip

Anna Singhathip

Anna is a freshman at the University of Minnesota and plans to study physiology. She was previously a volunteer at Woodland Elementary School in Brooklyn Park, where she tutored students. Anna is the first Hmong and Lao Asian young woman to be a Brooklyn Park Ambassador, representing and supporting the community of Brooklyn Park. Anna is also a part of her church’s choir and is her church’s youth group vice president. In her spare time, Anna enjoys reading, playing the piano, and spending quality time with her friends and family.

YWI Cabinet Katelyn Vue

Katelyn Vue

Katelyn is a freshman at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities. She studied for two years as a PSEO student at Concordia University, Saint Paul. She plans to major in journalism. She won first place in the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper Contest 2018 in the arts and entertainment category. She is passionate about storytelling and hopes to tell the stories of the Hmong community through writing. She also volunteered as a mentor and director of Hmong storytelling plays at Richardson Elementary, which focused on Hmong history and cultural identities.

Tori Warner

Tori Warner

Tori is a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. She is currently pursuing a liberal education degree with a STEM emphasis at the Leech Lake Tribal college. As the STEM club secretary and student council student liaison, she spends a great deal of her time on campus. Tori is also advocating for more culturally responsive activities on her campus, such as a sweat lodge, maple syrup collecting, and more student-centered activities. She is dedicated to finding ways to help other young indigenous Native women thrive within their communities.

Myrka Zambrano

Myrka Zambrano 

Born and raised in Minnesota, Myrka serves as a cabinet member representing the Latinx and LGBTQ+ communities. She is a senior at Benilde St. Margaret’s High School. There, she participates in activities such as, speech, Latinx affinity group, medical club, volunteer corps, and captain of her mock trial team. Outside of school, Myrka volunteers at Park Spanish Immersion Elementary School where she tutors kids and exposes them to the Spanish language. Myrka was also selected as a Bank of America Student Leader. As part of this program, she presented a proposal that sought to represent underrepresented communities in Minnesota through public works of art. Myrka is especially proud of her Latinx heritage and hopes to one day work as an immigration lawyer. She also hopes to be part of empowering young Latinx people to be successful and be leaders in their communities.